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The Rights of the People

How Our Search for Safety Invades Our Liberties

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Hardcover published by Knopf (Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group)

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About This Book

An impassioned, incisive look at the violations of civil liberties in the United States that have accelerated over the past decade—and their direct impact on our lives.

How have our rights to privacy and justice been undermined? What exactly have we lost? Pulitzer Prize–winner David K. Shipler searches for the answers to these questions by traveling the midnight streets of dangerous neighborhoods with police, listening to traumatized victims of secret surveillance, and digging into dubious terrorism prosecutions. The law comes to life in these pages, where the compelling stories of individual men and women illuminate the broad array of government’s powers to intrude into personal lives. Examining the historical expansion and contraction of fundamental liberties in America, this is the account of what has been taken—and of how much we stand to regain by protesting the departures from the Bill of Rights. And, in Shipler’s hands, each person’s experience serves as a powerful incitement for a retrieval of these precious rights.

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An impassioned, incisive look at the violations of civil liberties in the United States that have accelerated over the past decade—and their direct impact on our lives.

How have our rights to privacy and justice been undermined? What exactly have we lost? Pulitzer Prize–winner David K. Shipler searches for the answers to these questions by traveling the midnight streets of dangerous neighborhoods with police, listening to traumatized victims of secret surveillance, and digging into dubious terrorism prosecutions. The law comes to life in these pages, where the compelling stories of individual men and women illuminate the broad array of government’s powers to intrude into personal lives. Examining the historical expansion and contraction of fundamental liberties in America, this is the account of what has been taken—and of how much we stand to regain by protesting the departures from the Bill of Rights. And, in Shipler’s hands, each person’s experience serves as a powerful incitement for a retrieval of these precious rights.

Product Details
Hardcover (400 pages)
Published: April 19, 2011
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Imprint: Knopf
ISBN: 9781400043620
Other books byDavid K. Shipler
  • The Working Poor

    The Working Poor
    Invisible in America
    “Nobody who works hard should be poor in America,” writes Pulitzer Prize winner David Shipler. Clear-headed, rigorous, and compassionate, he journeys deeply into the lives of individual store clerks and factory workers, farm laborers and sweat-shop seamstresses, illegal immigrants in menial jobs and Americans saddled with immense student loans and paltry wages. They are known as the working poor. They perform labor essential to America’s comfort. They are white and black, Latino and Asian--men and women in small towns and city slums trapped near the poverty line, where the margins are so tight that even minor setbacks can cause devastating chain reactions. Shipler shows how liberals and conservatives are both partly right–that practically every life story contains failure by both the society and the individual. Braced by hard fact and personal testimony, he unravels the forces that confine people in the quagmire of low wages. And unlike most works on poverty, this book also offers compelling portraits of employers struggling against razor-thin profits and competition from abroad. With pointed recommendations for change that challenge Republicans and Democrats alike, The Working Poor stands to make a difference.

    A Country of Strangers

    A Country of Strangers
    Blacks and Whites in America
    A Country of Strangers is a magnificent exploration of the psychological landscape where blacks and whites meet. To tell the story in human rather than abstract terms, the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer David K. Shipler bypasses both extremists and celebrities and takes us among ordinary Americans as they encounter one another across racial lines. We learn how blacks and whites see each other, how they interpret each other's behavior, and how certain damaging images and assumptions seep into the actions of even the most unbiased. We penetrate into dimensions of stereotyping and discrimination that are usually invisible, and discover the unseen prejudices and privileges of white Americans, and what black Americans make of them. We explore the competing impulses of integration and separation: the reference points by which the races navigate as they venture out and then withdraw; the biculturalism that many blacks perfect as they move back and forth between the white and black worlds, and the homesickness some blacks feel for the comfort of all-black separateness. There are portrayals of interracial families and their multiracial children--expert guides through the clashes created by racial blending in America. We see how whites and blacks each carry the burden of our history. Black-white stereotypes are dissected: the physical bodies that we see, the mental qualities we imagine, the moral character we attribute to others and to ourselves, the violence we fear, the power we seek or are loath to relinquish. The book makes clear that we have the ability to shape our racial landscape--to reconstruct, even if not perfectly, the texture of our relationships. There is an assessment of the complexity confronting blacks and whites alike as they struggle to recognize and define the racial motivations that may or may not be present in a thought, a word, a deed. The book does not prescribe, but it documents the silences that prevail, the listening that doesn't happen, the conversations that don't take place. It looks at relations between minorities, including blacks and Jews, and blacks and Koreans. It explores the human dimensions of affirmative action, the intricate contacts and misunderstandings across racial lines among coworkers and neighbors. It is unstinting in its criticism of our society's failure to come to grips with bigotry; but it is also, happily, crowded with black people and white people who struggle in their daily lives to do just that. A remarkable book that will stimulate each of us to reexamine and better understand our own deepest attitudes in regard to race in America.

    Rights at Risk

    Rights at Risk
    The Limits of Liberty in Modern America
    An enlightening, intensely researched examination of violations of the constitutional principles that preserve individual rights and civil liberties from courtrooms to classrooms.   With telling anecdote and detail, Pulitzer Prize–winner David K. Shipler explores the territory where the Constitution meets everyday America, where legal compromises—before and since 9/11—have undermined the criminal justice system’s fairness, enhanced the executive branch’s power over citizens and immigrants, and impaired some of the freewheeling debate and protest essential in a constitutional democracy.   Shipler demonstrates how the violations tamper with America’s safety in unexpected ways. While a free society takes risks to observe rights, denying rights creates other risks. A suspect’s right to silence may deprive police of a confession, but a forced confession is often false. Honoring the right to a jury trial may be cumbersome, but empowering prosecutors to coerce a guilty plea means evidence goes untested, the charge unproved. An investigation undisciplined by the Bill of Rights may jail the innocent and leave the guilty at large and dangerous. Weakened constitutional rules allow the police to waste precious resources on useless intelligence gathering and frivolous arrests. The criminal courts act less as impartial adjudicators than as conveyor belts from street to prison in a system that some disillusioned participants have nicknamed “McJustice.”   There is, always, a human cost. Shipler shows us victims of torture and abuse—not only suspected terrorists at the hands of the CIA but also murder suspects interrogated by the Chicago police. We see a poverty-stricken woman forced to share an attorney with her drug dealer boyfriend and sentenced to six years in prison when the conflict of interest turns her lawyer against her. We meet high school students suspended for expressing unwelcome political opinions. And we see a pregnant immigrant deported, after years of living legally in the country, for allegedly stealing a lottery ticket.   Often shocking, yet ultimately idealistic, Rights at Risk shows us the shadows of America where the civil liberties we rightly take for granted have been eroded—and summons us to reclaim them.

    Arab and Jew

    Arab and Jew
    Wounded Spirits in a Promised Land
    The Jew, according to the Arab stereotype, is a brutal, violent coward; the Arab, to the prejudiced Jew, is a primitive creature of animal vengeance and cruel desires. In this monumental work, David Shipler delves into the origins of the prejudices that have been intensified by war, terrorism, and nationalism. Focusing on the diverse cultures that exist side by side in Israel and Israeli-controlled territories, Shipler examines the process of indoctrination that begins in schools; he discusses the far-ranging effects of socioeconomic differences, historical conflicts between Islam and Judaism, attitudes about the Holocaust, and much more. And he writes of the people: the Arab woman in love with a Jew, the retired Israeli military officer, the Palestinian guerilla, the handsome actor whose father is Arab and whose mother is Jewish.

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